Thursday, August 7, 2008

HIgher Education - Life Cycle of the Student

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest people in the CRM industry and one of the questions many have asked me is regarding CRM for Higher Education. Many institutions today struggle with the management of their current student body as well as maintaining a relationship with alumni. It's a real challenge for many colleges and universities to the extent that many have spent significant funds building applications to address the needs of their student body with less than desirable results.

I recently read an article from destinationCRM and felt compelled to start another blog dedicated to higher education. In the article, "Market Focus: Education -- Making CRM Mandatory for University Administration", written by Christopher Musico he describes the current state of the Higher Education dilemma regarding siloed applications/data and how enterprise CRM applications can change they way Higher Ed manages recruitment, retention and development. To this extent in the article by Christoper Musico, I am in complete agreement with the assessment made by Nicole Engelbert, author of the study "CRM in the Higher Education Market." Her assessment of the market place suggests that currently Higher Education is spending 184.9 million and will spend roughly 324.5 million by 2012 to either bolster existing CRM solutions or purchase completely new CRM solutions.

The challenge that I had in the remainder of the article was a quote by Keith Hontz from SAP who described SaaS solutions as incomplete and "at the end of the day, what they are not getting is complete integration." ? SaaS solutions are more open with web 2.0 and SOA architecture then their predecessor. Integration is the issue with legacy apps, not SaaS and to infer that SaaS solutions are not complete because you cant fully integrate is completely off base.

As many of you know I have been working in this space for several years and have a deep understanding of integration, SaaS and Cloud Computing. The power of SaaS is applications like that are complete CRM solutions built to meed the needs of higher education. Integration with existing legacy apps can be handled at the API level or through proven integration tools like Pervasive. The real challenge is understanding the current environment and how to blueprint a solution to solve the integration issues with siloed applications and the disparate data.

If you haven't heard much about Studentforce, I would take a look at what was developed for higher education leveraging the platform. It is another example of CRM made easy for large complex challenges in the Higher Education Market place. We are seeing more and more universities developing CRM strategies and incorporating SaaS solutions to improve visibility to the Student Life Cycle. It's my goal to help readers understand the technology available today and continue to create solutions for customers to support their business needs as technology and business evolves around them.

For more information on the Blueprint process, go to